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Ruffin Named Distinguished Professor of English

Paul Ruffin
Paul Ruffin

Paul Ruffin, an acclaimed author who has also brought recognition to Sam Houston State University through his development of "The Texas Review" and The Texas Review Press, has been named Distinguished Professor of English.

The Texas State University System Board of Regents conferred the title on Ruffin at their recent meeting on campus, praising him for his classroom efforts, his literary production, and for developing the "Review" and Press with only an extremely limited budget and hard work.

"'The Texas Review' and 'The Texas Review Press' hold a substantial place in the literary life of the nation, a fact that redounds not only to Dr. Ruffin’s reputation but also the prestige of Sam Houston State University and the state of Texas," according to the resolution approved by the regents.

Ruffin, who has taught at Sam Houston State since 1975, is the eighth faculty member to receive "distinguished" status. Others include Jimmy Merchant and Harry Bohan, now retired, and the late George Beto and Fisher Tull. Active distinguished professors in addition to Ruffin are James Olson, Rolando del Carmen, and Charles Friel.

"Being granted the title of distinguished professor by the Texas State University Board of Regents is the highlight of my academic career," Ruffin said. "I am flattered and honored to be so recognized by this august group, and I trust that I will continue to live up to their expectations."

The full text of the regents' resolution:


Whereas, Dr. Paul D. Ruffin, Professor of English at Sam Houston State University, has earned distinction in his field as a highly respected and much admired editor for his continuing accomplishments, his boundless energy, and his personal and professional gifts as a teacher, professor, editor, writer, and scholar. A significant figure in Texas and Southern creative writing circles, he has elevated the reputation of The Texas Review to national standing; under his editorship, it has remained one of the best regarded literary publications in the country.
Whereas, his writings and engagements across the country have made him known beyond Sam Houston State University and Texas, it is The Texas Review that has added significantly to his influence as a writer, editor, and publisher. In 1976, with the urging of his academic dean and the able assistance of his English faculty colleagues, the first issue of what would become The Texas Review was launched. In 1979, with limited funds, the Texas Review Press was born with the publication of a collection of Texas poetry and photography called The Texas Anthology. From those humble beginnings with budget limitations, no teaching load release time, and a tremendous amount of work involved, the determination to keep the quality of work high and continue brought glowing accolades and a boost in recognition in the state; another year brought publication of fine fiction and poetry from all across the country. He has brought The Texas Review to a place of national prominence in the world of literary journals wherein writers nationally and internationally assess its value as a place to be published and a source of outstanding poetry, fiction, and criticism. Taken together, The Texas Review and The Texas Review Press hold a substantial place in the literary life of the nation, a fact that redounds not only to Dr. Ruffin’s reputation but also the prestige of Sam Houston State University and the state of Texas.
Whereas, with the talent and work-ethic to become an outstanding and productive writer as well as an inspiring teacher and mentor for students, Dr. Ruffin accomplished his creative production in multiple categories of expression: poetry, fiction, criticism, journalism, editing, and publishing. His body of work speaks for itself; it is creatively prolific and consistently high in quality.
Whereas, the publication of original material, maintenance of a journal, and management of a staff in addition to his teaching responsibilities, professional involvement, and responsibility would be regarded by many as daunting. His own writing of short fiction and his novels, as well as his poetry, have been critically praised in The New York Times and Publisher’s Weekly. The poems and stories in texts such as Little, Brown’s Introduction to Poetry, Harcourt Brace’s College Handbook of Creative Writing, and Ploughshares’ Contemporary Southern Fiction place his work before a much wider audience than that for the literary journals alone. His many invitations to workshops and to read at colleges and universities attest further to the extent of his national reputation. His work is known to a large circle of his peers, to students, and to those in general interested in literature.
Whereas, his students express their respect and admiration for his pedagogical ability ensuring his reputation as one of the university’s more popular and effective teachers. His work as a writer helps to enrich his teaching at the University because by utilizing his own background, he can encourage his students to celebrate and explore their own heritage. Ruffin’s meticulous habits of revision are also extremely significant and set an example for other creative writers because he shows them that once the memory has been mined for material, it must be shaped and point of view, verb tense, structures, and other areas must be explored. He reclaims ordinary life by finding value or a lesson in lives that his creative vision probes. He is regarded as a writer who causes us to remember people who have been forgotten and also saying some bold things about regular lives.
Whereas, Dr. Ruffin has achieved a stunning record of publication with over six hundred poems published in top journals throughout the United States including Alaska and Hawaii and over fifty stories and essays over a similar geographic range. Sole author of nine books, co-author or co-editor of another seven. Ruffin has done hundreds of reviews, interviews, readings, and workshops at some sixty colleges and universities across the nation. He has been honored with membership in the Texas Institute of Letters, the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters, and the Academy of American Poets. He is listed in the Directory of American Poets and Writers and in seven Who’s Who publications. Dedicated and hard-working throughout his career of nearly three decades, his accomplishments across the full range of teaching, service, publication, and other creative activity at Sam Houston State University are truly distinguished. In recognition of an academic career marked by eminence, distinction, and excellence, Sam Houston State University unequivocally recommends Dr. Paul D. Ruffin to the Board of Regents, The Texas State University System, for the designation as Distinguished Professor; be it therefore
Resolved, that all elements of Sam Houston State University and the Board of Regents, The Texas State University System, proffer to Professor Paul D. Ruffin their gratitude and esteem; and be it further
Resolved, that Professor Paul D. Ruffin be formally designated as Distinguished Professor of English at Sam Houston State University and hold that title in perpetuity.
Adopted by the Board of Regents, The Texas State University System., on November 21, 2003.

Signed by regents Kent M. Adams, Patricia Diaz Dennis, Alan W. Dreeben, John E. Dudley, Dionicio "Don" Flores, Bernie Francis, James A. Hayley, Nancy R. Neal and Pollyanna A. Stephens, and Lamar G. Urbanovsky, chancellor.

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SHSU Media Contact: Frank Krystyniak
Dec. 3, 2003
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